Neo Noir films take the old Film Noir and modernize it (Neo meaning ‘New’ [[and ‘Lithic’ meaning Stone]]). My favorite film of all time is BLADE RUNNER, which is Sci Fi Noir. But the two movies that really fit the Double Feature bill for me this week is
From the ever amazing work in CHINATOWN, from a script from Robert Towne and direction by Roman Polanski, and to the lush world of SoCal in the 1930’s, the era of the original Film Noir films; CHINATOWN presented an amazing mystery in a grown up fashion.
Femme Fatales had something to live up to when Faye Dunaway played Catherine Mulray. Jack Nicholson wore a fedora and solved the mysteries buried in politics. CHINATOWN lives by the idea of visual storytelling, even in the most complex plots and details.
And to go with one of cinemas most acknowledged films, 2005’s BRICK from Rian Johnson made its own mark. I saw the trailer a few hundred times and loved it when the film itself lived up to the hype. The very concept of taking Film Noir and setting it in a high school sounds ridiculous and even more than a little hilarious.
It wasn’t. BRICK creates a language, calling the police “bulls” etc., and cinematically just floors us. Lest I forget, the editorial style takes the cake though. Entirely modern in its approach, yet clearly paying homage to the Noir genre, BRICK fits like a glove.
Even on an independent budget, the attention to detail and visual interest keep BRICK on another level. From the recurring theme of lights and lamps, to the chicken based milk carafe, the movie lives on in endless viewings.
Writer/Director Rian Johnson moved on to direct several key episodes of BREAKING BAD, the sci fi movie LOOPER, and has now officially been signed to write and direct STAR WARS EPISODE Viii (and write STAR WARS EPISODE iX).
I like Film Noir, but the Neo Noir moves me a little more. It’s not even close to being my favorite genre, but I thoroughly enjoy grown up stories told well, and these two are great films regardless of category.